After Sovereignty: On the Question of Political Beginnings

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After Sovereignty - On The Question Of Political Beginnings Hardcover

It realy [sic] appears to me to be a new discovery in the Science of European Government at once extinguishing the Cobwebs, with which Diplomacy obscures the Horizon — bringing the Whole bearing of the system into its true light, and giving to the Counsels of the great Powers the Efficiency and almost the simplicity of a Single State. This was not a question of his own feeling; Castlereagh had no personal objection to the slave trade. There was of course also the dissenting point of view of the Spanish, who challenged the right of the Congress system to decide the legislation of nations or moral questions.

This outcome too suggests as the origin of the national economic priorities of the international order as we know it. It is easy to pick moral and political holes in these visions of the significance of the international order. In , Britain initiated a long tradition of excluding from the sight of European peacemaking its own maritime and colonial interests, refusing to include its ongoing war with America on the congress of Vienna agenda; that process was dealt with separately by the British in the town of Ghent around the same time.

Nor was a century of peace guaranteed in the way that historians often claimed; we need only think of the Europe-instigated battles in Spain, and Ottoman and Persian territories, and in the appalling Crimean war This time the cast had changed, and broadened—America was now in arms with Britain leading a European coalition, joined by new countries like Australia and New Zealand, and older empires Japan and China, against a foe led by Austria-Hungary, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire.

The British historian and political advisor to the peace, Charles Webster, went back to the archive in search of lessons for a postwar peace. There were other novelties, including the establishment of an International Labour Organization on the view that social justice was important for the maintenance of world peace or as a pragmatic counterweight to the siren call of the Bolshevik Revolution , and that health, commerce, slavery, colonialism might all require forms of international governance in the modern age of interdependence. There were new limits to this vision of an international order and international society.

Who could belong? Only nation-states.

Ideals of democracy

When the League of Nations failed to prevent a Second World War, there were recriminations aplenty about the national and racial emphases of the international order, to the extent that everyone preferred to just forget it all together. The end of the Second World War, stands out in current discussions as the moment that marks the international order under threat today, born of the destruction and hopefulness that framed the United Nations Conference on International Organization held in San Francisco in However, we can also claim that its principles were well in place by this time: from the possibility of international politics, to the ambition of permanent peace; from the methods of diplomacy and international society, to the mutually reinforcing status of the nation-state and international cooperation.

What had changed was that the United States—which had pursued an isolationist path in the s and s—was now indisputably the leader of these trends and their transformation into a new international order. The document that eventually gave that order its distinctive 20 th century feel—the Atlantic Charter—was agreed between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in , signed onto by China and the Soviet Union, as well as a broad swathe of British Commonwealth, Central American and Caribbean states, East and West European governments in exile, and later African, Middle Eastern, and Latin American countries.

The spectre haunting this new democratically-inclined international order was the figure of the refugee, the human being left stateless, or unprotected by war, by changing boundaries, and by states targeting their own citizens. While international governance now stretched into an ever-widening expanse of modern life—crises, education, science, food and agriculture, health, trade and capital needs—its moral cause was increasingly oriented around the concept of human rights.

There was then much that was different again about the seeds of international society in this international order, and the scope of the international imagination and law that fed its ambitions.

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I was by no means anti-American in my outlook, but I was penning articles for the major monthly magazines that were quite critical of the US approach to Okinawa's reversion. I understand that the Americans made a point of translating and reading all commentary critical of their position. I believe that the US government was indeed giving thought to the need to raise Okinawan standards of living, whether or not it was going to return the islands to Japanese control at some point.

The leftist newspapers and magazines of the day were overflowing with articles on the debate over Okinawan reversion. I, too, was contributing articles on this theme to the monthlies, but I wasn't entertaining the thought that the reversion would take place right away.

Sovereignty : Meaning, Definitions & Aspects of Sovereignty

By around or , though, the American view was that letting Okinawa go was the only remaining option. With respect to nuclear weapons, there was a range of discussion. For instance, since there seemed to be little chance of a reversion that allowed the Americans to keep nuclear arms on the islands, the idea was floated of removing them from Okinawan bases officially but retaining the ability to bring them back in times of crisis.

Although neither country brought it to the fore, both Japan and the United States were worried that their talks over Okinawa's reversion would touch off an intense confrontation between them. A group led by the educator [later the first governor of Okinawa] Yara Chobyo was even considering a fierce battle to take Okinawa back and rid it of American bases.

After Sovereignty On the Question of Political Beginnings by Barbour & Charles

In around February , when the United States was beginning to consider returning Okinawa to Japanese administration, a group of academics including Ichimata Masao--a professor of mine when I was a graduate student at Waseda University--launched an interdisciplinary study group to organize their thinking on the issues ahead of the territory's reversion. There was a need for such a group to consider the specific problems that could arise once Okinawa was made a full-fledged part of Japan once again--for instance, whether the teachers and lawyers there would lose their jobs if they were required to take the same certification exams as candidates in the rest of the country.

This group was more than just international law experts. Its main members also included specialists in constitutional issues, private international law, administrative law, and diplomatic history. I was still young, so I took part in the proceedings as an assistant to Professor Ichimata, rather than as a full member of the group.

OKUHARA When the study group started up, there was a need to get its members up to speed on the actual conditions in Okinawa, so first of all we arranged an observation tour. The government provided some support for the cost of the journey there--which was far from cheap at that time--but I was still unable to go along, being just an assistant to one of the group's actual members. Professor Ichimata took pity on me, though, and he arranged to get me there as well. I traveled to Okinawa by sea and took an airplane back. But once we rounded Yakushima Island, south of Kyushu, and headed into the East China Sea, we ran into fierce wind and rain, and it felt like we were in danger of capsizing.

At last, we made port in Okinawa at around five in the morning one day. After we stopped by the hotel where I would be staying, he had an appointment to meet with Matsuoka Seiho, the chief executive of the Ryukyu government, and I accompanied him.


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As the appointment with Matsuoka had been made for the professor alone, I spent my time in a waiting room. Left to my own devices, I thumbed through the photo spreads in the magazines lying around there. It was then that I found myself idly looking at photos of masses of bright yellow tents.

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As I flipped through the magazine's pages I saw these photos of forty or fifty workers salvaging materials from the wreck. The photographer seems to have originally been attracted to the subject matter for its pictorial quality, but in the course of his follow-up research, he asked a representative of the Ryukyu government whether there had been any Okinawan workers at the site in addition to the Taiwanese.

The answer was that there had been none there. My thought when I saw this was that the Taiwanese laborers needed to get a permit from the Okinawan civil administration to dismantle that vessel on Minamikojima Island, and if they had not done so, the administration should have issued a warning. The study group's members were in Okinawa on their observation tour just then, and they saw the Bs that had been evacuated to Kadena Air Base to avoid a strong storm that was lashing Guam.

I remember the vigorous demonstrations that residents near the base were holding in opposition to those planes' presence. Before leaving Tokyo I had spoken of my upcoming Okinawa trip with a friend who worked in a Diet member's office. Thanks to a letter from the Diet member to the local authorities, when I arrived at Ishigaki Airport, I was greeted by all the key people on the island--the mayor of the city of Ishigaki, the chief of police, the fire chief--and I had a car waiting to take me to my destination.

I suppose the locals had expected one of the more eminent scholars from the study group. When I stepped out of the plane, there was considerable astonishment. But I do recall thinking that the welcoming committee seemed a bit more at ease once they found out it was just me. The police officers told me they were running low on ammunition.

The firefighters were unhappy that their fire trucks could only battle flames up to the fifth floor of tall buildings. This was a big misunderstanding, really: the Ishigaki city personnel believed that I was there to take their petitions on budgetary matters. At any rate, after I had heard a number of these petitions, I went on my scheduled tour of the sugar refinery on the island. My strongest memory of this visit was the terrible stench that accompanied the process of refining sugar.

When you were there, did the islands come up at all? But when I spoke with officials at the Japanese government's office in Naha, I was surprised to learn that they had only a dim grasp of the names of Uotsuri Island and the other islands in the Senkakus.

Koga Tatsushiro, who developed Uotsuri Island during the Meiji era [], had been a sort of wheeler-and-dealer with money to his name. But while he had been building his bonito-processing plant and setting up his guano-export operations, most of the islanders on Ishigakijima Island were content to live off of the bountiful fishing they enjoyed in nearby waters.

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They had absolutely no desire to go off to the Senkakus and start new businesses. So it's not surprising that these islands fell outside their sphere of interest in general. From this I learned that Taiwanese workers had gone ashore on Minamikojima Island in the Senkaku Islands to take apart a wrecked vessel.